Permit me to start by telling you that if you did not dream, you cannot become! This is not to scare you, but to encourage you. No one can achieve big things without dreaming it first. In my view, one of the most critical things parents have to do for their children is to help them dream of the kind of future they want to achieve. It is not limited to asking “What would you like to become, son?” It involves providing access to different information materials that help children identify what they really love, and then grow into that thing. I remember that earlier in life, I wanted to become a medical doctor because that was the popular aspirations of people. At the age of seventeen (17), I personally identified what I wanted to become- a public health professional after requesting for some public health materials from Pfizer. I pursued it so vigorously; working at the community level, then to higher levels. I’m still pursuing it!!!
The conceptual framework is similar to this:
- Dream: This stems from a strong desire to possess or become something. From experience, I can tell you that when you have a strong desire and work hard at it, the fulfilment occurs in usually an inexplicable way. It just happens!
- Work towards it: Although, I said “it just happens”; yet it does not just happen without you working towards it. Persistence, hard work, prayers, efforts etc. are the requirements for our dreams to come true “suddenly”. I said “suddenly” because it comes with amazement.
3. Achieve it: When points 1 & 2 are present, point 3 (Achievement) is very easy. When you achieve, you feel so happy and fulfilled. An achiever inspires himself to dream more. Other persons around an achiever also feel inspired to work harder towards their dreams too.
The main point of our discussion today is this: “Do you have a childhood dream?” Honestly, it is sad if one becomes an adult without a dream; but be encouraged by the fact that you can dream at any time in life; the earlier, the better though. Also, when you achieve a dream, do not stop there. Please keep dreaming again, and again!
When God created you and me, He gave each if us a particular task to perform on earth (i.e. purpose). While some are privileged to know their purpose early in life, others are not. Knowing your purpose helps you to conceive the right goals for your life and career. In line with this, I will categorize all human beings into three: (1) those who have not discovered their purpose (2) those who know their purpose but are not courageous enough to pursue it (3) those who already know their purpose and are living it. This write up targets the second group i.e. those who know their purpose but who feel they do not have what it takes to fulfill it.
Let me start by informing you that it takes faith, courage and strong will to fulfill purpose. Let us take Moses in the bible as an example. God called Moses in Exodus 4 v 1-11 and revealed His purpose for his life by giving him an assignment. Moses quickly did SWOT analysis and immediately rejected the task. Why? God gave him a task that involved public speaking but he thought his speech defect was a major limitation. Moses wondered why his calling was tied to his incapacity to speak. Although God persuaded him by giving series of signs (re-assurance) that he will succeed, he (Moses) remained obstinate that he wouldn’t take up the assignment, but he eventually did. This is the situation of many people. They think a major disgrace is awaiting them on their way to fulfilling their destiny because of their perceived or obvious limitations as the case may be. They forget that God who formed them in their mothers’ womb is able to sort out their worries and help them to succeed.
Let us see another case study. Peter and John saw a lame man at the beautiful gate in Acts 3 v 1-9. This man was obviously lame. But Peter instructed him to rise up and walk. Imagine that! How will you instruct a lame to rise up? it looked like a mockery command. This lame man, by faith, obeyed. He tried to lift himself up, and as he did that, his legs became longer, straightened and fully whole. This marked an end of his limitation. Some times, all you need to do is to take a step of faith in the direction of your God-given purpose, without giving attention to your limitations, and you will succeed.
If you already know your purpose but you are limited by funds, fear or a disability, encourage yourself and take the very first step towards realizing that purpose, you will be amazed that in a short while you will be living your dreams.
For all your weaknesses, limitations, and disabilities, God has made provisions. All you need to do is to calmly look around for those pre-arranged solutions. An African adage says it is God who chases flies away from a cow that does not have a tail. In your helplessness, God is always there for you.
A woman named Hagar had a son for a her boss called Abraham. This woman was chased out of the house because she was not legally married to Abraham. In the middle of her journey she became exhausted, weary and thirsty. She was helpless. What made her so traumatized was that her little baby too was extremely thirsty and was dying, but she could not help because she couldn’t find water around. But guess what? God already provided a well very close to her but she did not see it.
Another example was that of this same man Abraham who was instructed by God to sacrifice his only son. This man, in obedience led his son to the place of sacrifice and was about to slaughter him when an angel of God told him that a ram was already provided in place of his only son. You can imagine how excited and relieved Abraham was following this divine rescue.
A final example, I will give is the story of a woman I just saw on a TV show today who was born arm-less. When I considered her situation, I saw that it is really a sad one But God already made a provision for her. She could draw with her toes. Not that alone, God in His aAlmightiness gave her a husband that accepts and loves her and she is living a fulfilled life.
Now, what actually made a difference in the lives of these people? I believe there was something more than physical that rescued these people. I always believe that God has made provision for everything we need to succeed in life, if we walk according to His purpose for our lives.
God bless you!
In our everyday life, we meet people of different ages, statuses, religion, and so on. Usually, when we meet a new person, we ‘size them up’ and conclude right there that this one deserves a warm handshake or just a “hi”. At this stage, people use stature to guess someone’s status. This has not proven to be correct most of the time, as many have big stature but with low status and vice versa.
For someone like me with a young face and stature, I have been treated unfairly by some persons who did not know that my age and status were not as low as they thought. At times, I receive this kind of treatment with smile but honestly, it hurts sometimes.
What brought about this topic was my experience with the Late Dr Oluyombo Awojobi, a rural surgeon in South West, Nigeria but with global relevance. I visited his clinic in August 2013 after a trip to Malaysia and was very impressed by all he had achieved. He personally took me and other colleagues around his hospital facilities. I kept wondering why this highly talented man would choose to live permanently in a rural place like Eruwa, Ibarapa local government area of Oyo State. He dressed very simple and not a flambouyant man. If anyone saw him, they might think he’s just a “common” person but he was not. But guess what, he was well respected and recognized by people who matter but he didn’t look it.
The unfortunate thing is that many have lost good opportunities by treating other people of perceived low social status with disdain. I was at a meeting recently and a friend introduced me to his friend whom I had not met before. He said “….meet Taiwo”. The guy looked at me and greeted me casually. The one introducing me went ahead to say “Taiwo is …..” Immediately, the guy offered me his hand. I warmly shook hands with him and started a conversation. In my heart, I was unsure why the new “friend” did that, although without much surprise as I have experienced that severally.
The story is this, many great people of today were once of low estate. No one believed they could rise to their present status, including they themselves. They didn’t know they could reach their present level of achievement but somehow they are there. Those who treated them badly when they were poor would not have the confidence to walk up to them now that they are successful.
Finally, there is a set of people that you cannot afford to treat badly. These are the young people. This is because these guys can become anything in life. They may become Governors, CEO of big companies, the President of your country or whatever thing they choose. Although it is difficult to predict the future of anyone, it is almost impossible to predict what a young person can become. Therefore, we must be conscious of the way we treat everyone we meet today not because of whom they now are but because of what they may become.
It happened exactly three years ago, oh just like yesterday, when my sweet mum Esther Olufunmilayo Adesoba passed on to glory. We celebrate you mum! Why would we not celebrate you? We would be ungrateful if we forgot to thank you on this day for molding our lives in a way that makes us admirable to a lot of people around the world. We would be ungrateful if we failed to show to the world that you were our “source”. The few friends we have around the world see us as special because of the qualities you instilled in us- hard work, honesty, respect, and good character. We are proud of you, mum!
People ask me “who is your mentor?” “Who guides you?” How do you manage to find your path in this very confusing way of life?” I always told them “My parents did a good job”. You and dad are my mentors. No one else! I have visited a few countries, met great people but none of them can compare to you in my life. You taught me how to live a decent and proper life.
One thing I want to thank you for on this day is how you took care of me and my siblings during our undergraduate studies. You guided us in our social life. You instructed us on where to go and where not to go, and we obeyed. No wonder we have no regrets about our past lives. This day, we mourn you and yet celebrate you because we are representing you well here on earth.
I can see that you are praying for me, my siblings and our dad. We are progressing, conquering our challenges, representing you around the world and making impact.
Mum, we miss you so much. How we wish you were here to take part in our successes.
Mum, sleep on till we meet again!
Olugbenga, Taiwo, Kenny, and Oluwadamilola.
As a young public health enthusiast, my literature review of ebola virus six years ago was interesting as I studied the zoonotic disease with keen curiosity. But the recent outbreak in West Africa brings more realism about how deadly the disease could be. As at the time of my study, there was no recorded case of the disease in Nigeria, not even in West Africa and so, there seemed not be a true experience of how an outbreak could feel. More so, that previous outbreaks happened when I was apparently too inexperienced to comprehend such a public health issue. This twenty-sixth outbreak of ebola began in Guinea in December 2013. It then spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Senegal.
The outbreak in West Africa which has been described as the largest in history is the first in Nigeria and the sub-region. Since they say first impression lasts long, this outbreak therefore will leave with us scars that cannot be forgotten in a hurry. The shocking mortality in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone has been connected with gaps reported in the medical care, training of health staff, infection control, contact tracing, epidemiological surveillance, alert and referral systems, community education, and mobilization. The New York Times reports that “W.H.O. leaders have said the outbreak in West Africa could be stopped in six to nine months, but only if a “massive” global response, which is nowhere in sight, is carried out”.
In my reflections, I tried to identify why this outbreak in West Africa is unique.
Firstly, it has been described by the US CDC as the first Ebola epidemic the world has ever known- affecting multiple countries with its unprecedented mortality. One wonders why the international spread did not happen in previous outbreaks when public health strategies were probably not as robust as they are now. It may be as a result of the apparent increase in international travels since the earlier outbreaks especially in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Moreover, the affected countries did not prove to have strong preparedness for the disease; consequently, the impact has been so far devastating. It also seems that border checks were not properly observed by the affected countries. This may not be unconnected with the porous borders of the highly integrated West African countries which has proven to be very beneficial even in spite of this health challenge. This shows that West African countries need to even be more integrated so that they can be more supportive of one another in challenging times like this. Heretofore, nearly 3, 000 deaths have been recorded in West Africa since the outbreak started in December 2013.
Furthermore, misinformation and propagation of mythical information about ebola have resulted in very risky practices among the people of West Africa both the learned and unlearned. Usually, whenever a new disease emerges, correct information may be scanty and there is a high chance of the emergence and wide spread of myths based on cultural or religious beliefs that are capable of arm-twisting the intelligence even of literates who may not be familiar with such health issues. For example, when HIV had yet to be famous and correct information was scarce, there were lots of false stories that caused a surge of stigma. It was so bad that no one would want to exchange handshake with someone living with the virus. It was a similar experience with this ebola outbreak. Shortly after the ebola virus disease spread to Nigeria, information emerged that bathing with salt and water, and drinking same would prevent the disease. This mythical information further spread to other West African countries and unfortunately, some that did it in Nigeria could not live to tell the tale.
Another lesson we should learn is that a disease outbreak could spark a sense of insecurity and eventually lead to violence. This ebola outbreak will be remembered for the violence it caused among the affected population particularly in Guinea that led to the needless death of some gallant aid workers in the country. This stemmed from misinformation that these humanitarians were coming to spread the virus. This caused panic among the people. According to Reuters, “these deaths are believed to be the first resulting from resistance to international efforts to curb the outbreak in the region. Reports say many villagers have accused the health workers of spreading the disease”. Therefore, a smooth collaboration between health and security departments should be strengthened especially in this time of health crisis.
Similarly, the Jerusalem Post reports that “this outbreak led to the first ever UN emergency Security Council meeting called on health crisis and has been declared a threat to international peace and security”. The lethality of the ebola virus disease does not only affect international health but also by some means threatens international peace and security.
To confirm that Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) is a threat to peace and security, it resulted in the declaration of curfew in Sierra Leone. Mostly curfew is associated with unrest or conflict situations, as a measure taken to stem down violence. This remarkable outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease has received such an attention as startlingly, over one million people are under curfew and quarantined in Sierra Leone at this moment. The effect of the necessary curfew on the socio-economic lives of the people is undoubtedly huge.
As the control of the EVD outbreak in West Africa continues, more support is needed from the United Nations, international development partners and epidemiology experts; and all the lessons learnt should be properly kept to inform our decisions should there be any emergence of a similar but unwanted international health challenge in the future.
Taiwo Adesoba is a Microbiologist, Social Worker, Evaluation Professional and Public Health Worker from Nigeria.
Kindly follow him on twitter: @tai_soba
With the recent emergence of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Nigeria, I feel compelled to share my sincere opinions about the disease and what our attitudes should look like. I understand that many of my friends know me to be a cervical cancer prevention advocate and may be wondering how I got to know about ebola virus. I am a Microbiologist by university education and I studied virology during my undergraduate studies.
Permit me to pay my condolences to the families who have lost their loved ones to the pandemic.
Ebola Virus is strange to Nigeria and many Nigerian medical workers including physicians, laboratorians, nurses are just fiercely empowering themselves with information about it. The outbreak caught many medical experts in the country unawares as they may have never encountered such cases before. Moreover, since it’s a fever, the initial symptoms such as sore throat, headaches and muscle pains are similar to other fevers such as malaria and typhoid that they deal with frequently, and can be confused with them initially. However, it should be noted that Ebola Virus Disease (also known as Ebola Haemorrhagic Fever) is not new in the field International Health. After the first outbreak occurred in Zaire (Now Democratic Republic of Congo) in 1976, there had been about twenty four other outbreaks. There are five species of ebola virus namely Zaire Ebola Virus (occurred first in Zaire, now Democratic Republic of Congo), Sudan Ebola Virus (Occurred in Sudan), Reston Ebola Virus (USA), Tai Forest Ebola Virus (Cote d’Ivoire), Bundibugyo Ebola Virus (Uganda). They were named after the geographical locations of the outbreaks. Ebola virus causes a severe haemorrhagic fever in humans and other primates.
According to the World Health Organization, “Ebola is introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other body fluids of infected animals. In Africa, infection has been documented through handling of infected chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelopes and porcupines found ill or dead or in the forest”. Further reports from the WHO says ebola spreads in the community through human-to-human transmission, with infection resulting from direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs and bodily fluid of infected people, and indirect contact with environments contaminated with such fluids.
There are suggestions that male survivors may be able to transmit the disease via semen for nearly two months and that burial ceremonies in which mourners have direct contact with the body of the deceased person can play a role in the transmission of Ebola.
Nigeria seems to have an early warning system and preparedness for the disease. Apparently, this was why the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) swung into action immediately after the national index case was announced. Due to its fever symptoms, the disease probably deceived the staff of the clinic that attended to Mr Sawyer from Liberia who eventually died. It was a similar story in the first recorded case of Zaire Ebola Virus on 26 August 1976 when Mabalo Lokela, a 44-year old school teacher showed symptoms confused with Malaria. I am impressed at the good national response to the outbreak from the Nigerian government.
The Ebola Virus Disease seems to be a bit controllable as most of the previous outbreaks lasted for two months to less than a year. For example, Bundibugyo Ebola Virus outbreak started on November 24 2007 and the Ugandan Ministry officially announced an end to the epidemic on 20 February 2008, with the last infected person discharged on 8 January 2008. Likewise, an outbreak of Zaire Ebola Virus lasted from November to December 2003 (About 2 months). If efforts are intensified in Nigeria and other countries battling with the pandemic, it can be controlled early.
One concern I have is that staffs of Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Health Care facilities may require quick capacity building to make them aware of the disease and as well begin to adopt preventive practices such as barrier nursing. The Nigeria Medical Association should give guidelines about handling of fever-related cases such as adoption of barrier nursing at least for the next few months until the disease is declared controlled. In the outbreak of Sudan Ebola Virus of 1976, the lack of barrier nursing allegedly facilitated the spread of the virus and the disease.
The recent development has caused many to start spreading different unconfirmed and mythical reports. These reports are already influencing the behaviours of the general public, especially the greetings and what they eat. I like to shake hands and hug people but I was warned severely by a friend to stop doing that. Earlier, there was a report that bitter kola was an antidote to ebola virus infection but we are still waiting for stronger statements regarding this. I was not surprised to see that bitter kola was packaged differently by road-side sellers on my way to Lagos about two days ago (Aug 8 2014). You now find large quantities of the commodity at high prices. Expectedly, there are indications that the sale of bush meat is nose-diving as we know that animals such as bats and monkeys are reservoirs for the virus. Although many Nigerians enjoy eating bush meat, many have been discouraged from eating it. It is a good preventive measure but the Health ministry has yet to issue any statement regarding this. During Sudan Ebola Virus outbreak in 1976, the disease was believed to have broken out among cotton factory workers and the first case was believed to have been exposed to a natural reservoir. In response, many local animals and insects were tested but none was found to be carrying the virus. In this recent circumstance, the late Mr Sawyer from Liberia (index case) was not reported to have visited any forest in Nigeria and there has been no confirmed report of any hunter or forest worker coming down with the fever. Therefore, there is no official ban on the consumption of bush meat. However, abstinence from bush meat for this period may be sensible.
The WHO says no licensed vaccine for Ebola Virus Disease is available, although several vaccines are being tested. None is available for clinical use. No specific treatment is available too but new drugs are being evaluated.
The civil society should rise up to the occasion through awareness creation and proper information dissemination and helping to debunk emerging myths. The recent development has given opportunities for rumour-mongers to share unconfirmed reports via the social media. Some of the recent rumours were that the disease can be prevented by washing with warm salt solution; and drinking same. It is the responsibility of health-focused Civil Society Organizations to debunk these myths as well those that will soon emerge in their communities. It is worthy of note that some Nigeria telecommunication companies are really assisting by providing updates about the disease. They send unsolicited messages regarding preventive measures against ebola virus. The messages I’ve got on my phone were in English but there may be need to translate them to other local languages so that everyone (not only elites) will benefit from this support. Similarly, media organizations (Prints, Radio and Television) are providing updates about the disease. The people depend on them to provide us assist in create awareness, allay fears, and educate all Nigerians.
The disease may be prevented by reducing contact with infected animal, properly cooking meat before consumption, good hand-washing practices and barrier nursing, especially by medical workers. Also, fluids and tissues from people with the disease should be handled with special caution.
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